EMP upgrades IPS systems with Sourcefire

Globally, a significant shift is taking place as societies move away from cash-based economies to greater use of electronic payments, a trend that is emphasised in the emerging markets of the Middle East and Africa. This trend offers promising opportunities for all stakeholders; starting from banks, retailers and financial institutions, reaching the end consumer.

EMP LogoAs leaders of the electronic payment processing industry in the region, Emerging Markets Payments (EMP) Group delivers world-class electronic payment services to banks, retailers, governments and consumer finance institutions. The Group is committed to remaining at the forefront of the digital currency revolution by creating a payments platform that drives card penetration and other payment types in these emerging markets.

EMP is also committed to utilizing its knowledge and expertise in the industry through constantly enhancing its services to offer a variety of solutions to its clients. EMP has been operating in emerging markets for around 22 years now, which allowed it to build up a strong reputation in the market as a leading electronic payment card processing company. The Group currently offers its cutting-edge solutions to over 130 banks and 30,000 retailers across 45 countries in MEA. It also supports all electronic payment card schemes and all electronic distribution channels.

Moreover, EMP’s services include operating POSs as well as ATMs, and also offers client support through its 24/7 call center. Furthermore, EMP offers mobile and internet banking services as well as contactless payment, fraud detection and money transfer services.

The Company covers all elements of the payments value chain, from issuing, acquiring and switching through to card procurement and personalisation. It also covers all the major channels, being card, mobile and Internet. The company also offers a full range of eGovernment solutions as well as technical support for all the services it offers.

Regardless of the client’s geographic location or local practices, EMP Group has to ensure that the system fulfils two aspects for any client: a regulatory aspect; complying with PSI DSS requirements and a business aspect; providing a secure environment to complete its transactions.

Commenting on the efficient services the Group offers, Hany Fawzy, Chief Information Officer, EMP, says, “Because our clients rely on us to efficiently monitor their networks, it was important to have visibility (of all possible scenarios) throughout the system so that we could isolate and pinpoint any abnormal traffic and treat it correctly so that the networks run securely and smoothly for our clients and accordingly their respective clients.”

However, one of the key challenges with the former Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) was that it operated more like an Intrusion Detection System (IDS). There were a lot of misleading triggers that led to slowing down the network and it was unable to spotlight any problems/attacks; or highlight the impact these attacks on the business.

According to Fawzy, the team needed a system that would not only be dynamic and proactive, but also limits the number of false alarms. A system enabling EMP to successfully pre-empt these incidences and create visibility on the network to enable them to isolate the problems, find swift solutions to combat them, and keep the network working at optimum capacity.

After careful research, EMP selected Sourcefire’s IPS for the agility and intelligent functionality it provides to EMP’s systems deployed across its network of clients. The Group began by using the open source version in an initial test period of three months before moving to the full commercial version of the software.

EMP also installed two Sourcefire sensors, one at its HQ in Cairo and the other at its Nigerian branch, both managed by a centralized FireSIGHT Defense Center appliance based in Cairo. Originally installed over four years’ ago, the system has been updated and upgraded in 2013.

FVC’s team of engineers worked with its local partner, Security Meter Company, to design the complete solution, configure it to meet the requirements of EMP’s IT team and provide on-site assistance and support. FVC and its partner also provided the first level of training and certification to two members of EMP’s IT team to enable them manage the system efficiently.

After applying the new solution, Fawzy commented, “We are very pleased with the visibility we now have over our systems deployed across our client-base using just a team of two from our IT department. It has improved our efficiency without compromising our control and security.”

Installing Sourcefire’s FireSight, EMP is now able to monitor its internal network using a customised network discovery policy. The new IPS now shows the network’s vulnerabilities, helps to create recommended actions, and in turn helps create the best practice policies for all EMP sites.